Fort Macleod farmer disappointed with 2022 crop

While last year’s consistently hot and dry weather combined to create one of Alberta’s worst harvests on record, cooler and wetter weather this summer has given farmers hope that things will be different in the fall.

However, many are leaving the fields this season feeling disappointed with their harvest.

Stephen Vandervalk grows malting barley and canola, among other crops, just outside Fort Macleod.

He says while they expected a poor harvest last year, this year’s poor harvest came as a surprise.

“We started very dry, then we had rain and the crops were absolutely fantastic,” Vandervalk said. “Then it just dried out for the last five weeks before the harvest. In other words, a big crop of straw – it was a huge crop with nothing in it.”

Across southern Alberta, crop yields were mixed.

“What I’m hearing from people and members is basically it’s everywhere,” said Alberta Federation of Agriculture President Lynn Jacobson.

According to the province, about 75% of southern Alberta’s major crops have now been harvested.

“Most of the wheat, canola, peas – those types of crops are finished. Some of the third cut is still there for hay,” says Jacobson.

Yields below expectations are just one concern for farmers like Vandervalk.

He says inflation and supply chain issues have compounded to make it one of the costliest crops ever.

“You name it, it’s up,” Vandervalk said. “You couldn’t get parts. So sometimes the combines would break down because they were missing a simple $20 part and they couldn’t get it. Or, a sensor wasn’t working and they couldn’t fix it.”

He says he can only hope that next year’s crop will show higher yields and be cheaper to produce.